The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has announced that the city will limit upcoming Nyepi (Hindu Day of Silence) ceremonies and suspend mass prayers in places of worship, including Friday prayer at mosques and Sunday service at churches, for the next two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We agree to suspend all communal worship activities for two weeks. We urge citizens to pray at home during this time," Anies said during a press briefing at City Hall on Thursday.
The decision followed a discussion with the Jakarta Religious Harmony Forum and all religious leaders in the capital. The policy will be reviewed again after two weeks, Anies said.
He went on to say the policy had been put in place to stem the transmission of the coronavirus disease, as Jakarta continued to see a rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which stood at 210 on Thursday, including 17 fatal cases.
“Last week we urged Muslim citizens to bring their own prayer mats [to mosques], but today we have agreed to cancel two Friday mass prayers in the next two weeks,” Anies said.
Hindu leader I Nengah Dharma of the Jakarta chapter of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia said the Melasti purification ritual -- part of the Nyepi ceremony -- would be performed in Segara Cilincing Hindu Temple in North Jakarta on Sunday and attended by 10 participants only.
The Tawur Agung Kesanga ceremony on March 24, to be held a day before Nyepi on March 25, will also be limited to only 10 to 15 participants in Aditya Jaya Hindu temple in Rawamangun, East Jakarta.
“Furthermore, during Nyepi, Hindus are required to stay at home and reflect on themselves and this is in accordance with the social distancing measure called for by the government,” said Nengah.
Previously, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa on compulsory Muslim prayers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including not permitting Muslims to perform Friday prayers in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably”.
Following the governor’s instruction, the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, which previously insisted on holding Friday mass prayer despite the MUI's warnings, finally agreed to cancel Friday prayers for two weeks.
“We’re also urging all mosques in Jakarta not to hold Friday prayers and daily prayers in congregation in the next two weeks. Please replace with prayers at home,” Istiqlah Mosque management chair Cdre. (ret) Asep Saepudin said. (aly)